The unique challenges confronted by our education system in 2021 call for a special version of our annual Indicators Report. The coronavirus pandemic shined a light on what many educators have known for a long time: there are many important factors that influence student success such as mental health, nutrition, and high-speed internet access. The measures that seek to get a better understanding of the “whole student” appear in this report.
For many schools, test scores have taken a back seat for the moment. We plan on keeping them in future iterations – common measures are extremely important for understanding how our education system serves different groups of students and where we may need to make additional investments. The 2021 data all point us toward the most pressing issues affecting student success and well-being during what was a challenging time for students, their families and educators.
Beyond the K-12 system, early childhood education is finally getting its moment: society at large can’t ignore how integral a functioning early education system is for allowing young children and their parents to thrive. This report calls attention to important indicators related to the health of our early education system.
And finally, we are expanding the report to include data related to postsecondary education opportunities beyond 2- and 4- year college. Nearly half of Maine students don’t enroll in college following high school graduation. While we are working to increase the numbers of students pursuing college degrees, we must emphasize the number of excellent postsecondary options that exist that can meet the needs of these students, adult learners, and Maine’s workforce such as career and technical pathways and adult education. There are higher learning opportunities for ALL Maine learners, and this report endeavors to include information about all of those pathways, giving them the recognition that they deserve.
We hope that the data is helpful to school communities, policymakers, and anyone who is interested in the big picture of Maine’s education system. These are hard times, but it’s during these moments that we are able to focus on what is most essential. If we continue to focus holistically on the entire education pipeline and look at the complex needs of all Maine learners within it, we will build a better future for all.
Jason Judd, Ed.D